The longer the coronavirus lockdown continues, the more people are spending more of their time with audio entertainment. That’s according to the media buying agency Mindshare, which has been tracking consumer behavior since the pandemic began sweeping the globe last month. The latest data finds nearly a third (31%) of Americans say they are listening to more radio than prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
The new numbers, collected last week by Mindshare’s U.S. Consumer Insights team, also show the longer people are stuck at home, the more likely they are to be boosting their radio listening. When the agency asked the same question during the week of March 31, 21% of people surveyed said they were listening to more radio. But during the week of March 11, just 15% said they were. In other words, the longer the stay-at-home orders disrupt typical media habits, the more the number of Americans who say they’re spending more time with radio than in the pre-pandemic period goes up.
The trend line is similar for another form of audio entertainment – podcasting. A month ago when the world turned upside down, 13% of those surveyed by Mindshare said they were consuming more podcasts than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That climbed to 17% by the end of the month. And now its latest data, collected last week, shows that number has topped one-in-four (26%) Americans who report they’re dedicating more time to podcasts. That finding seems to correlate with data released by Podtrac on Tuesday that showed, for the first time since the health crisis took hold, the size of podcast downloads and audiences both increased last week.
It may be natural to expect that people stuck at home will be spending more and more time with all forms of media, but the Mindshare data reveals that’s not always the case. After initially seeing a bump, the research shows several formats – like watching online video, binge-watching shows, and spending time on social media – actually slid backward last week. At the same time more traditional habits like watching live TV and listening to music ticked higher than during the prior weeks. One reason could be that 46% of Americans report they’ve run out of content to consume, up from 33% in the survey done earlier this month.
"One of the trends we’ve seen over the course of a few weeks is news fatigue related to information about COVID-19, as just over half of consumers say that they’ve limited their time on media because they don’t want to read more news about it," Mindshare Director of Consumer Insights Alexis Fragale told MediaPost. "Aligned with this, when we look at what types of media people are consuming more of since the outbreak, this week in particular we’ve seen the biggest increases in non-streaming entertainment like listening to podcasts and the radio.”
Mindshare is conducting similar research in several other countries, including Mexico, the U.K., China, Germany, India, Singapore, France, Spain and Italy. It found similar trends favoring audio around the globe. Across the ten countries, 30% of those surveyed said they are listening to more radio than before the pandemic. And 23% said they’re listening to more podcasts. The surveys were conducted in mid-April and, compared to results collected at the end of March, they showed a greater interest in both radio and podcasting than just a few weeks earlier.
Mindshare’s other findings could also bode well for sales reps. It shows Americans aren’t feeling as negative about the situation as they were at the end of March. The number of people who describe feeling “worried” has fallen ten points to 45% and those who say they’re “stressed” is 38%, down from 42% last month. Similar decreases were reported about feelings like being anxious, frustrated, scared, sad and overwhelmed.
“Americans have begun to feel less negative overall,” the report says. “They’re not feeling particularly positive either, but a growing number are feeling confident.” The data shows 12% describe themselves that way, up five points from the prior survey.
Among Mindshare’s other latest findings:
51% of Americans have limited their time on media because they don’t want to read any more news about COVID-19. That includes 70% of Millennials.
80% of Americans are likely to support a brand that has taken action and helped communities impacted by COVID-19
65% of Millennials have bought board games since the COVID-19 outbreak compared to 40% of Americans overall
83% of affluent Americans (household income of $100,000 or more) are trying to stay healthy while at home. And 55% have purchased workout gear they can use at home (e.g. clothing, equipment)